Nearly all adventurous jazz connoisseurs are familiar with Joe McPhee's landmark recording Tenor (Hat Hut Records, 1977), the release that put Werner X. Uehlinger's label on the map. Certainly its rerelease twenty-two years later as Tenor & Fallen Angels (hatOLOGY, 2000} accomplished that task. Recorded in a cabin in Switzerland on a cassette recorder, McPhee's essence and genius were laid bare. The same can be said of a 1978 recording by vibraphonist Bobby Naughton, except this one took more than forty years to find its way to us.
Beginning in the late-1960s, Naughton was a vital member of the jazz and creative music scene. He was a founding member of the Creative Music Improvisers' Forum (CMIF) and recorded with the luminaries Anthony Braxton [Creative Orchestra (Köln) 1978 (hatOLOGY, 2009)], Wadada Leo Smith [Divine Love (ECM, 1979) and Spirit Catcher (Nessa, 1979)], and Roscoe Mitchell [Sketches From Bamboo (Moers, 1979)].
Like McPhee's Tenor, Solo Vibraphone Hartford is a solo outing with sonic flaws. An audience member coughing at the opening of both "But Beautiful" and "Untold Tale," and police sirens that invade "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," inform us of the rawness and just how unprocessed this performance was. The vibraphonist performs just one original composition while relying on five pieces from his contemporaries Wadada Leo Smith and Carla Bley, and jazz standards from Jimmy Van Heusen, Hoagy Carmichael, and Charles Mingus. The standards center the listener, with Naughton's gentle and ineffable voice. These tracks don't strive for the 'new thing' as much as they act as warm ruminations on eternal music. Joachim Andersen's (18471909) "Andersen Etude," originally for flute, twirls and flashes Naughton's nimble and exceedingly precise attack at hyper-speed. The Bley and Smith pieces display a wide variety of techniques, from percussion to sound decay and silence. This live session from August 5, 1978 is true treasure trove.
Untold Tale; Hapnes, Portrait of Braxton; But Beautiful; Andersen Etude; Jesus Maria; Doctor; Changes;
Goodbye Porkpie hat; Ictus; Stardust.
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